Scam Alert! Ransomware

This aptly named malware infects computer systems and then restricts user access to the system or its files until the user pays a fee. They come in a couple of forms, and all are bad news for users. Whether you pay the fine (and there’s no guarantee you’ll get your data back) or pay a professional to remove the malware, Ransomware can be expensive to handle.

The simplest form is scareware-based Ransomware. A notice pops up on your screen that seems to be from a law enforcement agency. It claims that illegal activities have been detected and the system will be locked until a fine has been paid.

Sometimes the pop-up looks like it’s coming from a virus protection or internet security company, claiming that the system is infected and the user must pay to remove the offending software.

A more complex form of Ransomware systematically encrypts files on the hard drive or introduces system changes that lock the system until the fee has been paid.

And the problem isn’t confined to desktop computers. Ransomware creators are starting to target Android phones as well. A newly discovered version of the malware resets the phone’s PIN locks, forcing a factory reset unless the ransom is paid.

Payment is usually demanded via wire transfer, online payment services, or Bitcoin (a digital currency used in trade for online goods and services).

The best way to protect your system from Ransomware is by keeping your virus protection software and all other software up to date and only downloading from users and sites that you trust. If you regularly backup important information to an external server or drive, you will be able to reclaim recent versions of your files without paying the ransom.

Contact Technology Solutions, Inc. or your local tech support company for information on remote backup services.

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